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Is Brazil’s loss to Germany the most embarrassing sports defeat ever?

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Brazil was embarrassed by Germany.

In their 7-1 World Cup semifinal defeat, an entire country’s soccer dreams were more than shattered, they were brutally murdered without regard for the emotions of a country already suffering.

The defeat was so bad, the winning team felt the need to apologize to the host nation.

The defeat was so bad, the fans turned on their beloved team, hurling the only thing handy at the team bus as it traveled through Belo Horizonte – oranges.

But where does this rank all-time? We’ve explored other embarrassing, shocking, and humiliating World Cup defeats. But in the context of sports, where does this stand?

First, it’s important to remember, we’re not ranking upsets or surprising victories. Germany is a machine, and according to many, Die Mannschaft was the favorite to win today. Just because a game results in an upset doesn’t make it the epitome of humiliation.

“Embarrassing” is the key word. What makes a sports loss shameful? Let’s dive right into where this game ranks in the top 10 most ignominious sports defeats of all time. Trust me, it’s on the list.

10) 1986 heavyweight title fight, Tyson defeats Spinks

Mike Tyson didn’t just defeat Michael Spinks, he humiliated him. A former gold medal winner and was an undefeated 31-0 at the time, so this was no pushover fight. It was billed as “Once and For All,” supposed to be a historic event. It was, sort of.

Tyson knocked out Spinks in 91 seconds, knocking him down twice – the first two times Spinks had been knocked down in his professional career. The loser landed just two punches in his short time in the ring.

For the richest fight in history at the time – a $20 million purse and $70 million gross – it was a letdown for the ages, and one that doesn’t rank in historical fights, mostly an afterthought thanks to the disaster Spinks put out in the ring. The favorite won, but it’s the manner of victory that puts it on this list. He retired a month later.

9) 2002 World Cup group stage: Senegal 1, France 0

The defending champions France entered the 2002 World Cup on quite a high and with a powerful squad.  With world-class striker Thierry Henry alongside French legend David Trezeguet, along with Patrick Viera and other big names, it was a force to be reckoned with…or so we thought.

Instead, the opening match of the 2002 tournament left a wound that the French never recovered from. A 1-0 loss to World Cup debutantes Senegal proved lethal, as a goal from Lens striker Papa Bouba Diop sunk the French to one of the most shocking World Cup defeats, one they would never recover from as they finished last in Group A and departed in embarrassing style.

It didn’t help that Senegal’s manager at the time was a Frenchman, Bruno Metsu. The day of the victory was declared a national holiday in Senegal.

source:  8) 2003 Big 12 Title game: Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7

They were supposed to be the best college football team ever assembled. That’s what everyone said.

12-0 Oklahoma rolled into the Big 12 title game as number 1 in the nation across every poll, and their sights weren’t just set on the Big 12 title game, but history. Except that never happened.

Darren Sproles and company spoiled the party in spectacular fashion. Oklahoma took the lead just 2:19 into the game with a long touchdown run, but it all fell apart from there.  All told, Kansas State plastered 519 offensive yards on the Sooners, and on the other end, Kansas State held the nation’s #1 scoring offense to just that opening touchdown. All told, given the expectations, build up, and margin of victory/defeat, this without a doubt fits the bill for all-time embarrassing defeat.

7) 1980 Winter Olympics hockey semifinal: USA 4, Russia 3 – “Miracle on Ice”

US sports fans have been flooded with the historic and heroic performance by the United States hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, but little is told about the losing side.

Consider the facts surrounding the game. The Soviets had won six of the previous seven gold medals. Vladislav Trektiak was the best goalie in hockey at the time. Boris Mikhailov was one of the game’s best attackmen. Viacheslav Fetisov is a Hall of Fame defenseman. The Soviets and Americans hated each other due to fallout from the Cold War. The Soviets nearly boycotted the Games.

Now consider the facts of the game. Trektiak was pulled after allowing a pair of first period goals. The US pressed the Soviets to the point of panic. The Soviet players never got their silver medals engraved with their names. It was a disaster by all accounts for the favorites.

6) 1996 Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska 62, Florida 24

Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators came in hot, and they came in cocky. They ended up humbled, with Head Ball Coach declaring, “I’m embarrassed that we couldn’t make a game of it.”

The Nebraska Cornhuskers had a 3 points Vegas edge as well as the #1 team in the nation, but many people had the Gators as clear favorites. Danny Wuerffel was a lightning rod. For Florida, the plan was clear: pressure the option, let Wuerffel loose. Neither of those happened. Instead, Tommie Frazier was the one who busted out of the cage, delivering 199 yards on the ground, including “The Run” which took Nebraska just one point shy of 50.

source: AP5) 2004 AL Championship Series: Red Sox 4 games, Yankees 3

One of the greatest comebacks of all-time led the Red Sox past the Yankees on their way towards breaking the 1918 curse and winning their first World Series in 86 years. The Yankees, holding a 3-0 series lead, choked it away and with it the rivalry was renewed.

Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in Game 4 turned the tide permanently towards the Red Sox, and with their 12th inning win the Boston squad dominated the rest of the series like they were starting fresh. Having proven a dominating force in baseball the last two decades, the loss would begin a Yankees fall back to Earth that remains in effect today.

4) 1950 World Cup final: Uruguay 2, Brazil 1

Oh god, they’re going to be on this list twice, aren’t they. Yep, they are.

Before Tuesday, this match was the most painful in the storied history of Brazilian soccer. Known as the “Maracanazo” or the “Blow at the Maracana,” Brazil fell to bitter South American rivals despite being massive favorites.

The Seleção came into the match (which was part of a “final group stage”) on the heels of 7-1 and 6-1 victories over Sweden and Spain. They had all the top players, including Jair, Zizinho, and Moacir Barbosa. Unfortunately, they were stunned, punished for sitting back after scoring the opening goal in the 47th minute.

It was so shocking of a result, and so embarrassing for the host nation, that goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa had a request turned down to commentate on a Brazilian game – in 1993, 43 years after the match. He received one of the Maracana goal posts as a gift for his services to his country in 1963, but he took it home and burned it. To say this result stung the players and fans alike is an understatement.

3) 1999 Open Championship: Jean Van de Velde blows the title on the final hole

One of the most painful results in sports history, golfer Jean Van de Velde rubbished his chance at a first major by choking away the final hole at the British Open. Needing just a double bogey six to claim victory, he shanked a drive, hit a grandstand, traversed knee-high rough, found the beach, and hit into water all on his way to a triple-bogey that would send the match to a three-way playoff. Van de Velde would eventually lose that to Paul Lawrie, a man who was 10 strokes back at the start of play on the final day.

He chose driver off the tee, his first mistake needing such a score to win. He cranked it into the rough, and his second shot caromed off the grandstand and into the thick cut.  The third shot went into the water, and he took a drop for his fourth shot. His fifth found a green-side bunker, and he managed to go up-and-down for a triple-bogey seven from there.

Van de Velde’s collapse was so bad, his name had already been engraved into the Claret Jug. They don’t do that anymore.

2) 2013/14 Ashes series: Australia 5, England 0

Most Americans aren’t in tune with cricket, but much of the world is, and this past Ashes series was an epic disaster for England. The Ashes is a series played on average every four years (it often varies due to the uneven summers of the countries in opposing hemispheres). They play five test matches, and all five are played no matter if one team secures victory in the series before it’s over.

source:  Much of the buildup to this series played into England’s hand. Australia was in a state of transition, having just changed coaches from Mickey Arthur to Darren Lehman.A number of legendary players had recently retired over the past year or two, including Michael Hussey and Rickey Ponting.

England, on the other hand, was a force. They’d won the last Ashes earlier that year (the first time the series had been played twice in the same year) by a 3-0 margin, with Australia just barely avoiding a whitewash thanks to two rain-assisted draws.

Unfortunately for the English, it all went wrong later that year. Australia blasted its way to a 381-run win in the first test at the Gabba, and England never recovered. The Aussies won each Test by at least 150 runs, as bowler Mitchell Johnson ripped through the English lineup of stars including Alistair Cook, Ian Bell, Joe Root, and Kevin Pieterson.  In the fifth and final Test, with England looking to avoid a whitewash, they flopped to a 281-run loss that was no contest.

The series has been played since 1882, and there have only been three whitewashes ever, including this one.

1) 2014 World Cup semifinal: Germany 7, Brazil 1

Call me reactionary, fine. This match every necessary ingredient to be considered the most embarrassing sporting event of all time.

It’s not that they lost to a bad team, or even a mediocre team. Germany was favored by many in this match, especially without Neymar or Thiago Silva. The disappointment and humiliation is in the atmosphere and the manner of defeat.  There, it trumps all else.

source: APOn Brazilian soil, with the team looking to avenge the pain of 1950 still lingering throughout, it all went horribly wrong. The concession of four goals in a six-minute span doomed the side, and it led to a shower of tears the likes of which we’ve never seen before.  The Germans sliced open a team clearly not prepared for their opponent and not up to speed on its technical ability and precision passing.

The Brazilian defense leaked worse than it ever has before, and the Germans were ruthless. For all the talk of losing superstar Neymar, the loss of Silva at the back arguably was worse in hindsight, as David Luiz took the captain’s armband and proceeded to stink it up. He lost track of Thomas Muller on the opening goal, and it went downhill from there.

It all led manager Luis Felipe Scolari to dub the match the “worst day of my life.” A Brazilian newspaper gave every player a goose egg 0 for player ratings. ESPN color commentator Steve McManaman declared “this is amateur hour.” It was such a shellacking that German striker Miroslav Klose set the all-time World Cup goalscoring record and the story was a distant afterthought.

Given the turmoil of the country, the expectations placed on the team (realistic or not), and the catastrophic way in which the match unfolded, it’s certainly fair to place this loss as the most embarrassing in sports history.

Honorable Mention:

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series: the Bill Buckner error
2014 Super Bowl: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
2014 World Cup group stage: Netherlands 5, Spain 1
2001 College Basketball: Duke 98, Maryland 96 (OT) – Maryland allows 10 points in final 31 seconds of regulation
1950 World Cup: USA 1, England 0
2011 Premier League: Manchester City 6, Manchester United 1

Rafa Benitez to have total control at Newcastle, including player sales

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  Rafa Benitez Newcastle United manager reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham at St James Park on May 15, 2016 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
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Usually, when teams are relegated to the Championship, squad salaries must be reevaluated to make ends meet, often meaning the axe for players who are deemed too costly.

That won’t be the case with Newcastle next season.

With manager Rafa Benitez back on board with the hopes of navigating the Magpies back to the Premier League as quickly as possible, owner Mike Ashley has handed Benitez the reigns.

Benitez confirmed he will have complete, unmitigated control of the squad roster in exchange for his services.

“What I have is the assurance that if I don’t want to sell any players I don’t have to,” Benitez said in his second unveiling as Newcastle manager. “We can keep all the players who we want to.”

But that’s not all. “For football business I will have responsibility. But the main thing is that I have had assurances we will have a strong team. We will have a winning team and the fans have to be sure I will try to build a strong squad. If I am sat here it is because I am sure we can do it. To clarify I am a person who likes to talk. But if I have to take responsibility I will, no problem.”

This is not only big news for anyone relegated to the Championship, but especially big news for a Mike Ashley club. Not even Sam Allardyce or Alan Pardew were given this type of total control of the club. Ashley knew he had little leverage with such a big name having fallen out of the Premier League, and he needed to make concessions to get his man.

Fernando Torres, back from the depths, can become a Champions League leader

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MAY 08:  Fernando Torres of Atletico de Madrid looks on during the La Liga match between Levante UD and Atletico de Madrid at Ciutat de Valencia on May 8, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
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His days in England are well past him. From Liverpool superstar to Chelsea flop, the unconventional route the 32-year-old’s career has taken has all led to this.

Yes, Fernando Torres has a Champions League winners’ medal, but it did not come in the fashion many believed he was destined for when he peaked at Anfield. A shell of his former self at Stamford Bridge, he was second-fiddle to fan-favorite Didier Drogba during the 2011/12 run Chelsea made through the competition. Ridiculed by plenty all across England for his YouTube-worthy misses and sleepy performances, Torres was run out of Stamford Bridge with just his medal to accompany him.

“This is the most important game of my life,” Torres emphatically claimed Wednesday morning ahead of Saturday’s final against Real Madrid in Milan. “A chance to write a page that has never been written in 113 years of Atlético’s history. I have the chance to make my dream come true, a dream I had as a kid, to win this cup with this club”.

Torres does not speak as if this is his team, because it is not his team. Despite his dominance at Liverpool, Torres will never be a standout player on a Champions League final caliber squad. Those days are well in the past. Now, Torres knows his place in the squad, an important cog in an engine with no one part more valuable than the other. Such is the way of Diego Simeone.

“I knew I was risking everything by coming back here to Atletico Madrid,” Torres said. “A lot of people thought it couldn’t get better for me here, but I knew the group I was coming into. I knew this group was destined for something big and I wanted to be part of it.”

For all the praises Simeone gets for his teams’ fitness, grit, and defensive prowess, bringing Torres back from the depths of obscurity might be one of his most underrated achievements. The ridicule Torres was forced to endure towards the end of his time in England can break a person. But Torres somehow managed to stay afloat despite the demons lapping at his ankles, and Simeone pulled him ashore. Now, reborn, Torres has finally shown flashes of his former self that only Anfield remembers. Across April and May, Torres bagged six goals and two assists in eight appearances – all starts – to close out the La Liga season. The Spaniard also fed the ball that sprung Antoine Griezmann free for the goal that won the semifinal against Bayern Munich.

No longer a star but still a valuable piece of the puzzle, Torres is right where he belongs. While his time with Chelsea brought him that medal so many legends in the game fail to achieve, he knows now is where his legacy will truly be judged. “The past can only help you get better,” Torres said. “We only think about Milan, which is the present.”

The key word being “we.” For his entire club career, the narrative surrounding Torres had always been about himself, from superstardom at Liverpool to the abuse he suffered after. Now with a “we” to fall back on, it’s time for Torres to play the most important game of his life.

Copa America 2016 preview, Group B: Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti

Brazil's Willian, left, and United States’ Alejandro Bedoya contend for the ball during the first half of an international friendly soccer match Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
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Brazil

They’ve won five Copa America titles with the last in 2007, but in their previous two Copa campaigns Brazil hasn’t made it past the quarterfinal stage. Despite not having captain and talisman Neymar around they’ll be one of the favorites this summer.

Star player: Douglas Costa – The winger was in fine form for Bayern Munich this season and along with Willian he will be a real threat in support of Hulk.

They will sweep all before them because… They have a huge number of talented attacking midfielders who can rip teams apart on their own. Together it could get rather silly. Expect them to be in the final four.

Really, though, Dunga will be on the hot seat in July: The one thing that stands out about this team is the lack of goals. Only one player in the entire squad has double figures (Hulk, with 12) and anything less than winning a major title is always treated with despair by the Brazilian population. If they don’t win either Copa America Centenario or the gold medal at Rio 2016, Dunga will be under big pressure.


Ecuador

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - MARCH 28:  Miguel Layun of Mexico (L) fights for the ball with Antonio Valencia of Ecuador (R) during a friendly match between Mexico and Ecuador at Memorial Coliseum Stadium on March 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, United States. (Photo by Omar Vega/LatinContent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Omar Vega/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Man, Ecuador is due a good Copa America performance. They haven’t made it out of the group stage since 1997 and have finished in fourth place twice.

Star player: Enner Valencia – After returning from injury in the final 13weeks of the season we saw just how important he is for Manchester United. That was from right back. Valencia will play in a more advanced role for Ecuador and provides bags of experience.

La Tricolor will go far because of forwards: Goals. Goals. Goals. Ecuador has a ton of talented attackers in its squad. Enner Valencia and Jefferson Montero will be dangerous and through the first five 2018 World Cup qualifying games they’ve scored 12 times and sit second in the table.

Likely heartbreak warning: With top scorer from World Cup qualifying, Felipe Caceido, out injured, Ecuador has been dealt a huge blow. They seem to always be the nearly men.


Peru

Paolo Guerrero, Peru

They’ve won the tournament twice in their history and last summer they were the surprise semifinalists who finished in third place. Anchored by a strong defense, they’ll be hoping to cause another upset.

Star player: Paolo Guerrero – He is their main man up top with 26 goals in 67 appearances. If Peru has a chance in the box, they want it to fall to him.

They will be the darlings of the tournament: If they get off to a flying start against Haiti in Seattle then we can expect big things. Confidence will be key ahead of the final game against Brazil.

Goals will be the big problem: They scored just twice in three games during the group stage last summer and somehow made it through. They will have to do more than that this time out and if they don’t beat Haiti, it is curtains for their knockout stage hopes.


Haiti

Gyasi Zardes, Frantz Bertin
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This will be their first-ever appearance in the Copa America and after their successful Gold Cup campaign in 2015, who knows what’s possible? They will fancy their chances of advancing despite all the odds stacked against them.

Star player: Johnny Placide – He shone for Haiti during the Gold Cup last summer and their goalkeeper will be another busy man. A beast.

Beware of the underdogs, they’ll get you: As we saw last summer, we shouldn’t underestimate Haiti. They only lost to the USA 1-0 and beat Honduras on their way to a quarterfinal exit to eventual runners up Jamaica. They will keep it tight and try to grind out wins.

Tight isn’t good enough: As they’ve found out in World Cup qualifying, you have to do more than hang in there. They haven’t scored a goal through four games of 2018 World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF Group B and sit bottom of the table. Placide will have to come up big this summer if they’re going to produce something special.


Game schedule – Full schedule for Group B, here

Who’s going through, who’s going home: Brazil, Ecuador going through; Peru and Haiti going home

Marquee match: I’m going with Brazil vs. Ecuador on June 4 at the Rose Bowl. This two will go at it to try and take control of Group B. Should be a fun one. 

Top players to watch

1) Douglas Costa
2) Willian
3) Antonio Valencia
4) Paolo Guerrero
5) Johnny Placide

French security chief: Strikes won’t threaten sports events

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 28:Tens of thousands of the French workers protest as the Unions in France launch new strikes against the pension reform plan on October 28, 2010 in Marseille, France. This is the seventh day of protest for French workers angry at the Government's proposed pension reforms. Nicolas Sarkozy, however, has not wavered in his plans to increase the state pension age from 60 to 62 and last night the National Assembly passed the bill.  (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) France’s interior minister says violent labor protests and strikes causing gas shortages won’t jeopardize the upcoming European Championship or other sporting events.

[ MORE: 5 things for Mourinho at United ]

About 1,500 people have been detained in recent weeks and hundreds of police officers have been injured in breaking up protests and dislodging protesters from fuel depots.

The tensions have added to concern about security for Euro 2016, already facing what Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the “double threat” of violent Islamic extremism and hooliganism.

[ MORE: What is USMNT’s best XI?

Cazeneuve told reporters Wednesday that the government respects the right to strike and does not see the labor movement as a “threat.”

He said it won’t disrupt protection of the June 10-July 10 championship, involving an unprecedented 90,000 people ensuring security.